Sixth Circuit confirms that statutory fees are collectible regardless of the litigant's capacity to afford counsel
A group of Ohio doctors and Medicaid providers sued the Ohio Secretary of State, after Ohio adopted a state law prohibiting them from making certain campaign contributions. The law was deemed unconstitutional (since giving unlimited amounts of money to campaigners for government is now deemed a "right of free speech"), and the doctors and medical providers sought to collect attorneys fees under
Federal Section 1988.
The trial judge expressed his personal preference that the award of statutory attorneys fees be limited to prevailing parties who could not otherwise afford to retain counsel. On that basis, he cut the fee request in half and "awarded only $128,000.00 in fees." The doctors and health providers appealed and the Sixth Circuit rejected the trial judge's analysis. It ruled that the right to collect fees for a statutory violation is a right of all litigants, regardless of ability to pay.